Ravens rookie running back Bernard Pierce busted up the middle, picking up steam until finally being corraled by Cleveland Browns safety Usama Young.
Pierce's 21-yard run during the third quarter marks the longest run of the third-round draft pick's four-game NFL career. Later, Pierce pounded up the middle for a 16-yard gain in the fourth quarter before being tackled by Browns safety T.J. Ward.
The former Temple standout gained 48 yards on just six carries during a 23-16 victory Thursday night over the Cleveland Browns, averaging a game-high eight yards per rush.
Pierce displayed a rare combination of explosiveness and power.
"Considering I only played four regular games, yeah, this is one of my better games," said Pierce, the primary backup to Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice. "I started getting into a little rhythm. I started getting a little more comfortable. I think I contributed.
"I saw the holes and hit the holes a little better. It wasn't a pretty game, but the offensive line came through in the clutch and blocked their butts off. Everybody calmed down. After that, it started clicking."
Rice rushed for 49 yards against Cleveland, one more than Pierce, but it took him 18 carries and he averaged only 2.7 yards per rush with a long run of 10 yards.
It was easily the most impressive game yet for Pierce.
"He had a great night, he came in and gave me a spell and found the holes," Rice said. "They opened the defense up and he found the holes that I couldn’t find when I was in there.
"He did a great job of running the ball. We didn’t get the total yardage we wanted as running backs. But when he was in there he gave me a nice blow, and gave us a nice burst to get the ball down the field.”
The Ravens rushed for 101 yards on 27 carries for the game.
The 6-foot, 218-pound rookie has rushed for 88 yards on 17 carries, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He's on pace to rush for 352 yards for the season, but that projection could increase with more impressive games like this one.
"You’ve seen it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He is very capable of that. That is something that he can do. He is a young, talented guy. He has a lot to learn, and he is working hard at learning it.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun